THE IMAGE OF GOD

A STUDY BY
GARY RAY BRANSCOME


    Until Adam and Eve fell into sin, their nature was a reflection (or image) of God’s righteous nature (Genesis 1:27-31). In other words, they were created in God’s own image. As a result, their sense of right and wrong was in perfect accord with the law of God, and they knew God perfectly for the His kindness, compassion, and love was inscribed on their hearts (Colossians 3:10, Leviticus 19:2, Ephesians 4:24).

    Because Adam and Eve shared God’s nature they were the children of God, and that fact set them apart from all other creatures (Luke 3:38). However, it is important to distinguish between God’s righteous nature, and His divine nature. God imparted His righteous nature to Adam, by designing him to instinctively think, feel, and act in a way that was righteous. Nevertheless, He did not impart His divine nature to Adam. On the contrary, Adam was man, not God; creature, not creator. Moreover, because Adam lacked the divine nature, Satan was able to deceive him and gain control over him (Genesis, chapter 3).

GOD THE SON


    This is precisely where Christ differed from Adam. Christ not only had God's righteous nature, but also had God's divine nature (1Corinthians 15:45-47). And, because He had the divine nature, Satan could not deceive Him (1Corinthians 15:57). At the same time, since no creature can be truly divine, God did not create Christ’s divine nature, but instead took upon Himself the nature of man. Therefore, when we speak of Christ’s divine nature, we are not speaking of a created nature, but are instead affirming the fact that Christ is the one True God. [Colossians 2:9, John 14:7-9, Colossians 1:15,19, Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 48:16,17, Jeremiah 23:5,6, Hebrews 1:3, 2Corinthians 4:4.]

THE ADOPTION OF SONS


    By sinning Adam ceased to be righteous, thus forfeiting the image of God. As a result, the nature that he passed on to his descendants is deceitful, self-centered, greedy, grumbling, and obstinate (Genesis 4:8, Genesis 5:3, Psalm 51:5, Jeremiah 17:9, Ephesians 2:3, Romans 3:10-23, Matthew 15:19, John 8:44, Romans 4:18-25).

    Those who make excuses for that nature, by denying their sin and refusing to repent, are telling God that they are happy with that nature and do not want a new nature. As a result, they will be stuck with a sinful nature for all eternity. God is not going to force anyone to bear His image! In contrast, God has provided mercy and forgiveness in Christ, for all who hate the sin in their nature and want to be delivered from it (Psalm 17:15, Acts 2:21, Ephesians 2:3-7, Romans 12:9, Luke 15:18,19, John 12:25, John 1:47, 1Corinthians 15:1-3). Moreover, because Christ has already obtained that forgiveness for us, we do not have to earn it, seek it, or make ourselves worthy of it. We simply accept it by faith (1John 1:9, Galatians 3:22).

    Once we have been cleansed of sin by the forgiveness that is ours in Christ, we are no longer children of wrath, but are counted as children of God (John 1:12,13, John 3:3-7, Ephesians 2:3, 1John 1:7). Nevertheless, our sinful nature is still with us. For even though we receive a new nature when we come to faith in Christ, our old nature will not be changed (or removed) until the resurrection (Romans 7:23, Romans 8:13-17, 1Corinthians 15:52). Instead, the Holy Spirit creates a virtual nature within us, by struggling from within against our flesh (Galatians 5:17-26, 2Corinthians 5:17). In fact, it is only by the help of the Spirit that we are able to recognize and condemn the wicked desires within us, resist temptation, and confess our sins when we fall short. And, He will not allow us to be tempted above that which we are able to resist (1Corinthians 10:13).

    However, the image of God does not come to us through the virtual nature (or through anything that we do). Instead, we are renewed in righteousness and true holiness after the image of God, by the forgiveness that is ours in Christ (Ephesians 4:24, Hebrews 10:14, Romans 10:4). Then, at the resurrection, our nature will be changed to bring it into accord with the righteousness that is already ours through faith in Christ. [Ephesians 2:21,22, 1Corinthians 15:51-55, Ephesians 4:13, 2Peter 1:4, Psalm 17:15, 1John 3:2, Jeremiah 31:33-34, Romans 10:4.]

HEIRS OF GOD


    Since God has made us His own dear children through faith in Christ, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (John 1:12,13, Romans 8:15-17). Moreover, because we are the heirs of God, all things are ours (1Corinthians 3:21,22). Therefore, when we rise from the dead (perfect in righteousness) greater power and glory than the children of this world have ever dreamed of will be at our disposal (1Corinthians 2:9 and 15:43). Not only will we be freed from the bondage of sin, but we will also rule over the nations and judge even the angels (1Corinthians 6:3, Revelation 2:26,27). In addition, the Bible indicates that we will be able to appear or disappear at will, pass through walls, and move about freely in the Spirit (1Corinthians 15:42-49, Luke 24:31, John 20:19,26, Acts 8:39,40). If we say to a tree or even a mountain "be thou plucked up by the root and cast into the sea" it shall obey us, and nothing shall be impossible (Matthew 17:20 and 21:22, Luke 17:6, Mark 11:23, Psalm 8:5, Romans 8:30).

[Note: Some equate the image of God with certain characteristics that have not been lost by sin, such as a rational mind and a will. However, that opinion not only does not come from the Bible, but the devil has a rational mind and a will. In contrast, the Bible equates the image of God only with righteousness (true holiness of heart) and the knowledge of God that comes with knowing His nature (Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24).]

CONCLUSION


    Those who reject the truth of God, blind themselves to their own depravity, and prefer the delusion that they are righteous, a superior race, or even “gods” to the truth of their own filthiness before God, will bear the bondage, corruption and condemnation of sin for all eternity.